Wednesday, May 28, 2008
When disaster, death and despair strike the age old questions begin to surface: 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' (which I think is very presumptuous to assume that you/the person you are referring to is a good person. The question should be, 'Why do bad things happen to ALL people?'). Many answer that questions with 'Life is not fair', 'Everything happens for a reason' and my favourite 'Everything will be ok in the end' (a good way to defer the question since by the end, it will be too late for the person to find you and call you a liar). Anyways, if you dig a little deeper the lines between what is good and bad will begin to blur and perhaps you will realize that neither do exist - as exemplified by the following anecdote (taken from Eckhart Tolle):
There was once an old man who won an expensive car in the lottery. His family and friends were very happy for him and came to celebrate. 'Isn't it great?' they said 'You are so lucky.' The man smiled and said, 'Maybe.' For a few weeks he enjoyed driving the car. Then, one day, a drunken driver crashed into his new car at an intersection and he ended up in the hospital with multiple injuries. His family and friends came to see him and said, 'That was really unfortunate'. Again, the man smiled and said 'Maybe.' While he was still in the hospital one night there was a landslide and his house fell into the sea. Again his friends came the next day and said, 'Weren't you lucky to have been here in the hospital?' Again he said, 'Maybe.'
Maybe is right. But what happens if we even go deeper than that, since that story was based on Western presumptions of what is considered good and bad.
What are these presumptions?
Good: being educated, goal-oriented, organized, wealthy, productive, strong bonds with family, friends, attachment to children, good health
Bad: unemployed, failure, old age, death, purposeless, single, illness
The labels good and bad work for these categories if your goal is to become a materially successful individual with a family. However, why exactly is this our goal? And when you achieve those goals, what next? Do we continue to set higher goals until we eventually DIE... dun dun dun!!? Usually it is only when these 'disasters' occur, that we get woken up to our higher purpose since we begin to question the meaning of life. It is only when things don't go our way that we are made to question and analyze the mental noise, created by our own brain, that had become our reality. We are then forced to stop living in the past or spend all our time imagining our future- especially if the future is now shaky. We realize that the people or things we thought were important are only temporary illusions in our fleeting life. All we are left with (as Tolle would say) is the present - which is in fact all we had in the first place. If this is the case, wouldn't that make these so-called 'bad' things actually the best things to ever happened to us? Maybe.